Every new year brings with it the opportunity to examine our surroundings with a fresh perspective and look toward the future.

This particular new year is special because it also marks the start of a new decade — one that is set to be characterized by growth and development for the Northland region.

A strong regional economy and family-friendly communities have led to tremendous growth over the past 10 years in the seven-county territory Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative services. New residential subdivisions are going up everywhere and commercial development is following on the heels of that progress. For example, since 2010, Platte County has experienced a 15.3% growth in population with Clay County not far behind at 11%. That level of growth requires a tremendous level of planning and foresight to maintain.

Platte-Clay’s Board of Directors and senior management recently engaged in a long-term planning session to identify the challenges that lie ahead in 2020 and beyond. Moving forward, the co-op is focused on building new infrastructure that meets the needs of tomorrow, improving the reliability of our service and increasing community engagement.

New areas of growth require building new electrical lines, and construction projects are ongoing in several parts of PCEC’s territory. Similarly, advances in technology require the co-op to embrace innovation. That’s why we launched a comprehensive program in 2019 to support the use of electric vehicles and rolled out several new rebates for innovative products like smart thermostats.

Improving the reliability of existing services is another step that puts the co-op in a strong position for the future as new consumer-members are connected and our numbers increase. Our Reliability Improvement Plan, which includes increase tree-trimming and underground inspections, will ensure members can do what they love without interruption far into the future.

Investing in education is another important part of preparing for future challenges. Every year, Platte-Clay sponsors students to attend award-winning leadership conferences in Washington, D.C. and Jefferson City. We also offer scholarships for high school seniors and provide continued education opportunities for local teachers.

To continue building on the Northland’s success, stakeholders must find innovative ways to help develop the leaders of tomorrow. The Northland’s success in the 2020s will be largely determined by how well community leaders work together to accomplish this goal.

Local governments, utilities, nonprofit organizations and the business community have all worked together in recent years to strengthen their communities by planning for future needs. The reason is simple: We know that our future success is intertwined and dependent on strong collaboration from those who want to see the Northland thrive.

As we enter a new decade, Platte-Clay looks forward to continuing its role in the growth of our region.

Dave Deihl is chief executive officer of Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, which has headquarters in Kearney. His office can be reached at 628-3121.

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